Productivity Secrets from a Serial Procrastinator

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Hi, my name is Dean and I am a procrastinator… and today I am going to show you how I managed to do 7 days worth of work in 3 hours.

YOU: “But Dean, who are you to teach us about productivity? Afterall, you struggle with it”

ME: “Shut up”

YOU: “No!”

ME: “damnit”

Listen, I don’t like to take advice from people who are naturally good at stuff, after all, they are naturally good at it. So they probably are not good at teaching something that comes naturally to them.

I had this when I was dating a Spanish girl, and she couldn’t teach me Spanish, as she didn’t know how to learn Spanish, she just picked it up as a child. However, she taught English far better than I could.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes, Procrastination…

Here is the trick…

Mega, Super, Uber-strict deadlines.

I don’t mean kinda strict, I mean stricter than a teacher from the 1950′s.

For example, if something would normally take you 5 days, set the deadline at 5 hours.

Seriously.

I did this yesterday, we had a high-end client coming to our offices as part of our Platinum Coaching club… so, I decided to create some training material for them. However, I had 3 hours before they arrived.

What followed was 3 hours of zero distraction, super fast and effective work, and I created a 20-page training manual, specific to their niche.

Normally, that would take me 4 or 5 days, allowing for distractions, adding images, research, writing, editing etc…

I did it in 3 hours.

Parkinson’s Law

There is logic to this madness… there is a law called “Parkinson’s Law” that states that a task will expand to fill the time allocated to it.

In other words, if a task takes 2 hours, and you set your deadline at 2 weeks, you will find a way of dragging it out over 2 weeks.

However, the opposite is true.

If you want to create a product that would normally take a month… set yourself a deadline of one weekend. You WILL find a way of getting it done.

Make yourself accountable.

I had the pressure of the clients coming down to be trained, I had no choice but to create it.

For our next product, we will teach the entire course via a webinar to a few BuzzProfits.com members. This way, I will HAVE to prepare the course, otherwise, I am going to look a right idiot when they are on the training call.

Another way would be to bet a friend.

Bet $5 you can do the task in record time.

So there we go, how to do 5 days work in 3 hours.

And remember, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it.

Dean – The Ex Serial Procrastinator

  • http://www.mattpress.com Matt

    Nice article. I’ll read it later ;)

    My only recommended addition would be the consumption of caffeine.

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  • http://lethario.com/ Lethario

    Being a serial procrastinator myself, I found this very interesting. I normally take as long as I can with tasks, but when I really have to hurry something, it ends up better as a result. I thought it was just me, so its great to hear that its actually quite normal.

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  • http://renegadeconservatoryguy.co.uk/ High End Client

    Am I a high-end client? Lol!

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  • http://deanhunt.com Dean Hunt

    Of course ;-)

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  • Emeka

    funny how the papers I wrote the hours before class were my best.

    commitment devices they call em.

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  • http://www.marketingoutlaw.co.nz/blog/ Craig Dewe

    Before I start a task I create a James Bond style death trap complete with laser beam and sharks. Then I link the completing of the task to turn off the death trap and for extra motivation I reward myself by hooking up with a hot girl.

    Note: “hot girl” may be replaced with “hot boy” at your discretion.

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  • http://dailytennistips.com Michael

    Great Article,
    I have know about this for a while but it is great to have the reminder. Parkinsons Law is especially true with Software Development and Web Development (where I came from). Tip to everyone – Never give a software or web guy an open amount of time. Basically these tasks are problem solving and open to interpretation.. So, they will make the task more complicated to fit the time allocated to it…
    Now, about the comment about caffine. I actually find that caffine makes me super sensitive to distractions.. I found that out on the tennis court and I wrote about it here. http://dailytennistips.com/?p=383
    Have a great and productive day !
    Michael

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  • http://juhotunkelo.com Juho Tunkelo

    Oh so very good… uber-strict deadlines are the

    best. Even better when spiced with peer pressure a.k.a. letting others know what you’re about to finish and show to them!

    In fact I think I’m going to set one for myself today… which I should have done two weeks ago already. D’oh!

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  • http://gladiatorsandals.org.uk steve

    this can hold true, and I’ve managed to do it the past myself (more of a DON’T PANIC than a strategy, however). BUT. And it’s a big but. Things like this can only be achieved if you don’t have to rely on anyone else to get the thing done.

    Any interface with someone else, any reliance on them doing something can all delay the outcome…

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  • http://overshare.co.uk Chris Hunt

    The Now Habit is outstanding – Like really really.

    It goes very deep but helps procrastination in a major way.

    What you experienced with your productivity when you did the sprint for 2 hours is something that Tony Schwartz talks about. I saw him speak on Video with Eben Pagen (Get Altitude program) and what he said knocked me sideways. Here’s a link to a video with him in, I’m not sure what he says as I haven’t watched it but if it was anything like what I saw then it is life changing stuff – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tke6X2eME3c

    Any where was I, oh yeah I was in the middle of working…

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  • http://overshare.co.uk Chris Hunt

    Mate what did you use to put that pop up sign in box on your site when I submitted my last comment?

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  • http://leet-side.com Andrew d

    I have tried this with my friend and it doesnt work.

    I do know it works with me and I’m about to set some records

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  • Arlene

    Well, you’ve caught me at it … again! Glad I’m not the only one. I’ve been procrastinating all day. It’s now 15:40 and I haven’t budged from this computer since I came into the kitchen for my first cuppa of the day. I’ve been working – but not doing the task I’d set myself.

    Okay! I’m off – right now! No more checking emails or just taking a quick look at this or that.

    My goodness, this could be my life-changing moment. I’ll let you know!

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  • http://thelemmingsyndrome.com alvin

    have you by any chance read the four hour work week by Tim Ferris?

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  • JohnnyJP

    Kinda depends what you are trying to do. Design and build a car takes 2 years. Try doing that in 2 hours. There has to be a sensable balance, with the possiblity of success or you wont even try.

    I am a software engineer, and while I want to build things quickly, I also want them to actually fulfill the need. Trying to compress too much means that the chance of building something that is 100% whats asked for but 100% useless increases exponentially.,

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  • http://www.easyaffiliatemanagement.com Arika Lewis

    Dean,

    I just recently came across your stuff and I must say I LOVE it. That banter back and forth at the beginning could have been taken right from a gchat convo with my partner Tracy Roberts.

    We are constantly doing crazy things like that! LOL Here’s an example from just a few minutes ago actually:

    Tracy: I almost became a SAHM yesterday.
    Arika: OH NO YOU DIDN’T!
    Arika: Tracy, STOP IT!
    Tracy: Make me.
    Tracy: You can’t, can you?
    Arika: OH Yes I CAN! Watch me!

    Thanks for keeping things fun and still getting things done! :) You ROCK!
    .-= Arika Lewis´s last blog ..test =-.

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  • http://instantinternetlifestyleblog.com Neil Martin

    This is so true Dean… when I was doing my degree I found that I got to a position whereby I couldn’t actually produce anything worthwhile until the pressure to do so was really intense (still ended up with a first though!). But to be able to artificially create that would be a wonderful thing.

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  • Susan Hand

    Until I retired from a major consultancy I thought I didn’t have a procrastination problem. I always made deadlines and even came in ahead. Then I retired and started my own business and I thought I had fallen apart.

    After 2 years of procrastinating and not getting my business where it should be, the light bulb came on. Yep, I knew I was my own boss, but I wan no longer a strict boss! I started giving myself a way out – I was retired, I could do it later, I hadn’t worked all those years to continue to beat myself!

    Dean, your insights are absolutely right on. But procrastination is like anything else – you have to be ready to admit it and own it before you can fix it!

    Thanks for helping all of us!

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  • Ann

    Wow, this is awesome! Thank you so much for this post, I really have to try this!

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  • http://twitter.com/kingpreface Zach G

    Nice! I’m already liking my email subscription….one useful tip. Can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve read and videos I’ve watched that give 13 different tactics and as a result I tried none of them. Barry Schwartz would be proud.

    Might I suggest (I know it’s cheesy but it works) a line at the end of the post: “Check your calendar or to-do list and comment below with what you are going to test this on.”

    I have to write an essay for the Treehouse giveaway contest…so I just went to ohdontforget.com and scheduled a text reminder to write and submit my essay 60 minutes before the deadline. Hopefully I will forget about it, then freak out at the text, and get it done in an hour because that’s all I will have.

    I think writing especially is prone to Parkinson’s Law…you can always spend another hour perfecting. Cheers.

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